Demand for protection of World Heritage sites

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has called on governments to increase the protection given to World Heritage sites
Demand for protection of World Heritage sites Demand for protection of World Heritage sites Demand for protection of World Heritage sites Demand for protection of World Heritage sites Demand for protection of World Heritage sites

The Mount Nimba range, a World Heritage site in west Africa, is rich in high-grade iron ore. Photo: John Etherton

Staff reporter

According to the ICMM, while 23 leading mining companies have voluntarily made a commitment not to mine or explore in World Heritage sites, their voluntary action alone is not enough to safeguard these sites.

Speaking at the Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ICMM’s chief executive Tom Butler said: “Our members voluntarily decided in 2003, not to mine or explore in World Heritage sites. Yet 13 years later, other companies and industries are still operating in these precious sites. The conservation of World Heritage sites is a collective responsibility we all share, and ICMM wants to see more movement from governments to protect them.”

Since the first World Heritage sites were listed in 1978, only two of the 192 countries that have ratified the World Heritage convention have enshrined this protection in domestic legislation - South Africa and Australia. ICMM highlighted that this is against a backdrop of a rapid decline in the world’s fauna, and WWF’s Living Planet Report found that wildlife populations have halved since 1970.

ICMM and IUCN commissioned an independent report by Dr Stephen Turner on world heritage. It recommended that countries incorporate their commitments under the World Heritage Convention in their national legislation.